HC Deb 17 November 1966 vol 736 cc626-8
Q2. Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied that the problems arising from the desire of individual members of the European Free Trade Association to join the European Economic Community are properly coordinated as between the Foreign Secretary, the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, the President of the Board of Trade and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; and if he will make a statement.

Q4. Mr. Worsley

asked the Prime Minister whether he is satisfied at the co-ordination among Departments of measures designed to facilitate the entry of the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

I appreciate that co-ordination in this matter has improved since the Prime Minister announced that he is personally leading this venture, but would he nevertheless tell us who, when his own attention is diverted to other matters, is the Minister really responsible? Is it the Foreign Secretary or the First Secretary?

The Prime Minister

The present Ministerial set-up relates to the period while we are having not only the E.F.T.A. Conference but also the visits to the Heads of Government of the Six. If this produces a situation where we can get into negotiations, it will clearly be necessary to recast the Ministerial setup, because one Minister would need to be engaged full time in negotiations. At the present time the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is to go with me on these tours and to co-ordinate the foreign policy aspects. My right hon. Friend the First Secretary will be responsible in particular for the industrial aspects and will be Chairman of the new Advisory Committee of Industry on it.

Mr. Worsley

Does the Prime Minister agree that it is essential that during this period all Government Departments pursue policies consistent with our joining the Common Market and that his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, for instance, only recently did not do this, in that he conducted a negotiation with the New Zealand Government, which everyone agrees was a special case, without discussing the question of Common Market entry?

The Prime Minister

The Commonwealth Prime Ministers know exactly what the position is, and indeed there have been discussions on it at recent Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Confer- ences. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not saying that we should not be involved in negotiations with the New Zealand Government. As the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) said yesterday, there is widespread recognition in Europe that special action has to be taken in respect of New Zealand.

Q3. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Prime Minister what plans he has for discussions with President de Gaulle on the terms and conditions of a British entry into the Common Market.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the hon. Member to my statement of the 10th of November—[Vol. 735, c. 1539–40.]—and to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's speech in the debate yesterday.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Does the Prime Minister agree that his meetings in Paris are likely to be crucial to the success or failure of this enterprise, and will he assure us that, notwithstanding what he said last week, he will go to Paris ready to discuss European co-operation in such matters as nuclear defence and international monetary arrangements as well as the Treaty of Rome?

The Prime Minister

I agree that the visit to Paris, and, indeed, to other European capitals, is crucial to this operation, but the point of the question raised by the hon. Gentleman would be better dealt with in the debate in which we are now engaged rather than at Question Time. I hope, Mr. Speaker, that I may be able to catch your eye later in the debate, when it is possible that I may refer in passing to the point made by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Winnick

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that in no circumstances in discussions with the French leader will we agree to a pooling of nuclear weapons and technical "know-how" and that we will not come to any such defence agreement with France?

The Prime Minister

I think that I might, perhaps, say a word about this if I catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, later today. There has been a certain amount of advice given to us in the last week about nuclear policies on this question which, I think, would be unacceptable to us.